Sixth Grade Redux
for Terri Blackman
Good morning, Ladles and Jellyfish!
Thank you for politely ignoring that woman
pretending to read in the back and also for
the order of mathematical operations
Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sallie.
Every porpoise needs to have a purpose.
Sometimes a surplus of sourpusses surfaces.
If our Greatest Common Factor was fear
that would be a horse of a different color.
We are here to learn, not to scorn.
You can spin yourself into a tizzy
at recess as long as you listen to me now
and then to whoever dons the orange vest
and wields the whistle, even if it’s only
that hapless mother. Wait for the bell.
Avoid the playground’s potholes as well
as the sinkholes Mr. Science explained
in detail and the just-as-scary-but-harder-
to-fathom ones in the psyche he did not.
No spitting, no spitballs, no fisticuffs,
no fuss. No splitting your infinitives!
Though spring may arrive alarmingly
earlier each year, causing migrating birds
and their foodstuff of emergent insects
to go out of sync, school is still in session.
As any adult can attest, you’ll be graded
not only on what you learn, but even more
on what wasn’t taught. Just ask the lady
in the padded vest if she was prepared
for this non-standardized test of her love.